RYA urges all boaters to heed Boat Safety Scheme advice

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is reminding boaters about the dangers of carbon monoxide after three men received treatment for the effects of suspected poisoning following a leak on board their motor boat.

Firefighters from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and the Penarth Coastguard Rescue Team assisted in the motor boat’s evacuation at Cardiff Yacht Harbour on Saturday afternoon, 12 November 2016.

Firefighters and coastguard crew attend carbon monoxide incident aboard motor boat. Credit: Penarth Coastguard Rescue Team

Credit: Penarth Coastguard Rescue Team

A spokesperson for the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said when the crew arrived, three men were found on board.

‘One man had suspected carbon monoxide poisoning and two were suffering from the effects of carbon monoxide,’ she said.

The three men were all given oxygen therapy at the scene before being transferred to the University Hospital of Wales by ambulance.

Firefighters then used a Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPV) fan to ventilate the motor boat.

Know the dangers

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas, known as the silent killer. It can kill quickly if inhaled in high concentrations.

The symptoms of poisoning are similar to flu or food poisoning as the toxin begins to take effect, these include headaches, nausea and dizziness.

As time passes and, or the amount of CO builds, you may suffer chest pains and breathlessness leading to seizure, unconscious. So the early recognition of the symptoms is critical, but if nothing is done, death can happen quickly.

Keep safe

RYA advice on avoiding a carbon monoxide incident is to:

  • Know the danger signs and symptoms of CO poisoning
  • Spot potential hazards early and know how to react if a leak is suspected
  • Install fuel burning appliances properly
  • Maintain appliances and engines routinely, competently and without bodges
  • Use equipment correctly – never use cookers for space heating
  • Air is vital for fuel-burning appliances – never block ventilation and allow a sufficient supply
  • Don’t bring charcoal BBQs on board during or after use – only stone-cold charcoal
  • Keep engine fumes out of the cabin, never use a portable generator on the boat – if you can smell exhaust fumes aboard you may be at risk
  • Deal with problems immediately, never use equipment you suspect has problems
  • Install a certified CO alarm (BS EN 50291-2), test it routinely and never remove the batteries except to replace them

Back in August, the RYA took steps to highlight the Marine Accident Investigation Branch’s (MAIB) carbon monoxide safety warning after the deaths of a couple on their motor cruiser, Love for Lydia, at Wroxham on the Norfolk Broads.

The MAIB safety bulletin recommended that carbon monoxide alarms, similar to those used in caravans and homes, were fitted to boats.  It also highlighted the many sources of carbon monoxide on board including engines, generators, solid fuel burners and cookers.

A video highlighting these dangers has also been produced by MAIB:

More information is available on the RYA safety hub, or you can visit www.boatsafetyscheme.org/co

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